Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Re-Charge After a Writing Project

My late husband told me a story of how a certain country decided people should work seven days a week. Instead of increasing productivity, the experiment had the exact opposite effect. Workers slowed down due to exhaustion and low morale. They went back to a 5-6 day week, and things returned to normal.

All of us need to take a break from the daily grind. Here are some of the ways I kick back and rest:

1.  After a monster-sized project like writing a novel, I take off from writing. Deadline pressure and the fast pace of writing can take a toll on spirit, soul, and body. The most I'll do is write a blog post or journal.

2.  Do the million and one chores I've neglected while operating in super-writer mode. All that stuff piling up can create its own stress. I've washed and ironed curtains, ironed clothing, cleaned closets, cleaned my desk, and restored order to my house.

3.  Sleeping late is a luxury that doesn't happen when I'm birthing what I hope will be that Great American Novel. Staying in bed until 8:00 A.M. on Saturdays and 7:00 A.M. on Sunday is sheer heaven after I've been getting up at 5:00 A.M. every day.

4.  Reconnecting with friends keeps relationships alive and relieves the isolation associated with the writing life. I'll give them a call, go out to lunch, hang out and enjoy their company without looking at the clock.

5.  Spend an extended period of time in prayer and Bible study. I like to make notations in my journal about things that catch my eye. What does that word mean in the original Greek or Hebrew? What do other scriptures say on the same topic?

Gradually, I re-enter the writing life as edits come in, proposals are written, plans are made for book launches, and another book takes shape in my heart. The entire cycle repeats itself, and each part is special in its own way. 

Writers:  What are some of the ways you rest and restore your creative well?

Readers:  How do you re-charge after a particularly busy period in your life?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Marketing/Frustration/Devo/Videos/Dessert Recipe

1.  I came across this article on 44 Proven Ways to Market and Sell Your Self-Published Book. Even if you're not self-published, there are some excellent ideas here.

2.  Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives tips on Writerly Frustration and how to deal with it.

3.  Susan Panzica's recent experience with an overgrown garden prompted much introspection. Check out this thoughtful post. She gives us a lot to consider.

4.  WND reports on the suppression of the Planned Parenthood videos by two judges and how to get around it. Every time I think of what they're doing to these infants, some of them born alive, I'm horrified. I can only imagine how God views these horrendous practices.

5.  All my family and friends know how much I love chocolate. Pair it with peanut butter, and my heart skips a beat or two. Here's a recipe from that I'd like to try. If you try it first, will you let me know how it turns out?

Writers:  How do you deal with Writerly Frustrations? Have you used them to communicate that feeling and the tension it causes in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you pin recipes on Pinterest or save them for future reference? Have you actually tried any of them?

Photo Credit: Ket Quang

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Four-Course Meal

Once upon a time, the desire for deep friendships made me try too hard. What do I mean by that statement? Within an hour of meeting me, they knew my entire life story from birth to present age.

As writers, we want to share so much about our characters and story world that we use the force-feed method. How our characters grew up, all their traumas, the full panoramic view of their setting flow from our pens -  on the first page. Readers like a meaty start, but they don't want the whole steak shoved into their mouths in one sitting.

A little mystery tantalizes the reader and whets their appetite for the next delectable morsel. Inserting a detail that shows the why of a character's behavior/choices can create empathy and understanding.

I've learned that getting to know people and writing a book is like serving a 4-course meal:

1.  The appetizer - A little detail after the surface conversation hints at a person's history. In a book, a yummy bit of information prepares the reader for better things to come.

2.  The salad - Specific incidents are shared in a budding friendship, and take it to the next level. Answers to one or two early questions have the reader turning pages, so they can find out what motivates each player.

3.  The entree - Talks that go beyond day-to-day activities increase understanding. The promise of a tasty, nourishing meal is fulfilled. The story world is fleshed out and the characters' motivations become apparent as their history is artfully plated before the reader.

4.  The dessert - The friendship reaches a stage of intimacy where each person knows what makes the other tick. The reader sits back and sighs, eating the confection and sipping the beverage of a story well told.

Writers:  How do you handle back story in your books? This principle can apply to non-fiction as well as fiction writers. (Think about memoir writing or using illustrations.)

Readers:  How does too much character history affect your reading experience? Does it overwhelm you? Do you continue to read?

Photo Credit:  Hobbes Yeo

Friday, August 21, 2015

Risk/Hackers/Speaking/Adjustments/Book Returns

1.  Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer asks, "Are You A Risk Taker?"

2.  As the owner of a new car, this is a truly frightening post. WND reports an experiment where hackers were able to take over a jeep's dashboard, steering, and transmission while it was going 70 m.p.h. on a highway.

In my book, The Moses Conspiracy, my main characters kept their old vehicle a long time to avoid the dangers of tracking devices that would reveal their location. Check out this post. It seems the future is now.

3.  Are you a speaker or moving in that direction? Don't miss this Lucinda Secrest McDowell's excellent post of 7 Ways to Destroy Your Speaking Career.

4.  Whether it's moving to another state, a new job, or some other major life change, we learn lessons on how to adjust. Dena Netherton shares her experiences on frequent moves.

5.  I've always known being an author wasn't for wimps, but Spunk of a Stick's Tips about book returns made me cringe.  L. Diane Wolfe pulls back the curtain and reveals what goes on behind the scenes.

Writers:  Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Why?

Readers:  What are some of the ways you handle major life changes like a big move to another state?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  matt_benoit

Monday, August 17, 2015

NEW RELEASE! Out of the Mist

NEW RELEASE! The print version of Out of the Mist, the third book in The Moses Trilogy, is available on Amazon. The ebook will be out as soon as some technical issues are addressed.

Drive, determination, and an anti-Christian attitude mark Kendra Marshall. When she collides with Peter Gruber (a.k.a., Zimmerman) in a college hallway, she has no idea her life is about to take a sharp turn.

Dave Yoder's geeky ways are a turnoff to the sophisticated, pre-med student. Undaunted by her brush-off, he works to capture her heart.

Peter's family and friends see red flags in any relationship with the feisty young woman. Trouble is written all over her, but when she's injured, they come to her rescue. They soon find she's marked by The New Patriot organization and could blow their carefully-devised cover.

Once again, the Grubers' (a.k.a., Zimmerman) Amish friends in Bird-in-Hand, PA and Holmes County, Ohio join in the race for answers and protection. Kendra's not always cooperative and gets herself into major trouble.

Will a young woman accomplish what The New Patriots haven't over the course of two decades?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Foreign Sales/FRC/Edits/Influence/Spoonerisms

1.  Lori Nelson Spielman, at Writers in the Storm, talks about what foreign book sales taught her. While her sales in some markets were great, in others they were poor or mediocre.

2.  The Family Research Council reports on the latest developments in the Planned Parenthood scandal. There's a link to a petition, as well as information I haven't seen previously.

3.  Zoe M. McCarthy posted a Quick Guide on the Type of Edit You Need for Your Novel. Since I'm at that stage with my fifth book, I appreciated this information.

4.  I loved this repost by Carol Garvin. She shares about how one of her first grade students grew up to be an astronaut.

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, posted on "Spoonerisms." You don't know what they are? Neither did I until I read this - very entertaining.

Writers:  Have you ever worked with a professional editor? What type of edit did you get?

Readers:  What was your favorite "Spoonerism?" Can you add any to the list? Please share.

Photo Credit: Lize Rixt

Monday, August 10, 2015

Up Moments from The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference

This is definitely an "Up" moment. My agent, Joyce Hart, and I got to spent some quality time together. While we communicate often by email and telephone, our in-person meetings are few and far between. I'm thankful she's in my corner.

Another "Up" at this conference was the Continuing Session entitled, "The Heart of the Writer," taught by Allen Arnold. He covered the difference between writing alone and writing in partnership with God. Many of his points were illustrated with movie and TV clips, as well as personal experience.

If you don't have a chance to take this class, you can order the CD's from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. (At the bottom of the page, click on Philadelpha. Click on the link in the upper right hand section for the CD Flyer.) I bought the set even though I was there.

All the editor appointments went well. Each one had positive things to say about my latest novel. The workshops I attended gave participants the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences. I met new friends and reconnected with many from past conferences and online.

The 2015 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is history. Yet, the many things I learned and the relationships nurtured will carry on well into the future.

Thank you, Marlene Bagnull, for walking in obedience to the Lord. It was the best conference to date for me.

Writers:  Have you been to a writers conference? What was your favorite experience there?

Readers:  Did you know we pray for you as we write our books? My desire is to: 1) Honor the Lord and 2) Write a book that will both bless and entertain you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Publishing/Twitter/Spies/Help/Writing Slumps

1.  Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency, gives an encouraging word for uncertain times in the Christian publishing industry.

2.  Whether you're an author or in some other business, here's a great article by Annie, at Writer Unboxed, on the line between self-promotion and spam on Twitter.

3.  WND reports on the creepy world of spy devices in your home. Sweetie Mom recently needed a TV, and we made sure the one we bought wasn't a "Smart" version.

4.  Author Jody Hedlund talks about the benefits of having a Virtual Assistant. No, you don't have to be independently wealthy to hire one. Check out her article.

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, gives five ways to break out of a writer's slump. I think this could work for any creative endeavor.

Writers:  What are some ways you break out of a writing slump?

Readers:  Do you hang out on Twitter? What are some of your pet peeves?

Photo Credit:  svilen001

Monday, August 3, 2015


It's a command associated with someone in authority wanting a person to stop running. HALT is also used as an acronym to warn us of danger.

H - Watch out when you're hungry. Jacob knew Esau would be hungry after a day of   hunting, and used a savory stew to exchange his birthright for a hearty meal. It was a bad deal that caused their entire family much grief over the course of a lifetime.

A - Watch out when you're angry. David almost killed a bunch of people because they refused to help him and his men. The wise intervention of Abigail prevented a disaster and helped him calm down.

L - Watch out when you're lonely. It's easy to seek comfort in all the wrong places when you're gripped by loneliness.

T - Watch out when you're tired. Sleep deprivation can weaken your resolve to stay the course and make right decisions.

As writers, each one of these situations can present temptations:

H - Are we hungry for recognition? Watch out! Scripture tells us to let another praise us and not our own mouth. This doesn't mean we shouldn't make others aware of our work or accomplishments, but rather do so with a humble spirit.

A - A bad review, a Frankenstein edit (lots of red ink), or any number of situations can make us angry. During those times, stepping back and allowing the dust to settle will give us perspective and an opportunity to deal with them in a reasonable manner.

L - The writing life is a lonely one. In our desire to connect with other writers, we may entrust our articles, poems, or manuscripts to anyone who comes along. That's a good way to end up bruised and bleeding from non-constructive criticism.

T - With all the demands of life and writing, it's easy to get tired. During those times, avoid making drastic decisions that will affect the course of your writing career. Get the rest you need, so you can evaluate your choices with a clear head and a prayerful heart.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of the warning signs that set off alarms in your head?